Will Lee
June 30, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Marines of Autumn

Current Status
In Season
James Brady
Fiction, History

We gave it an A-

If MacArthur’s landing at Inchon in September 1950 represented the U.S. military’s apex in the Korean War, the subsequent December flight from onrushing Communist forces through the Chosin Reservoir was its agonizing nadir. James Brady tackles the latter in The Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War: Ex-Marine Tom Verity, a professor of Chinese, is inveigled into what he thinks will be a brief stint monitoring Chinese radio transmissions and quickly becomes part of the harrowing retreat. Brady’s Marines start out square-jawed and single-minded, but their collective descent through the subzero chill, over and around the corpses of their comrades, sinks them into seriocomic lunacy. The transformation is gripping, lifting Marines a rank above the usual tanks-and-terrain military novel. A-

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